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A reformed ex-hit man resentenced

A former Buffalo hit man got a little something extra from a judge during his resentencing Monday: congratulations.

Antwaine Parker, 37, who has become a mentor to troubled teens since his imprisonment for a gang killing 14 years ago, was resentenced Monday on a reduced charge.

As his mother and father and other family members looked on, Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk congratulated Parker for his prison work while imposing a 10 1/2 - to 20-year prison term on his guilty plea to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter for the 1997 killing of Tyrone Brown.

As a result, he could be released from custody sometime this fall.

"When you go to prison, you can become one of two persons: You either get bitter or you become a better person," Parker told the judge. "I chose to try to become a better person."

Two years ago, Federal Magistrate Judge Victor E. Bianchini granted Parker a new murder trial, citing disturbing instances of prosecutorial misconduct.

Brown, 29, was fatally shot on Edison Street on June 14, 1997, in a drug dispute. Parker admitted in court July 25 that he was the shooter.

Parker thanked his appellate attorneys, Roger L. Wilcox, Herbert L. Greenman and Paul J. Cambria, as well as his 1997 trial attorney, Andrew C. LoTempio, for supporting him through the years.

Parker, who has been kept in the Erie County Holding Center since his guilty plea July 25, will likely be returned to Attica Correctional Facility by the end of this week, Greenman said.

Because of state and federal court appeal efforts by Parker's team of attorneys, Franczyk vacated Parker's murder conviction and, with the consent of prosecutors, accepted his first-degree manslaughter plea in the case.

Greenman and LoTempio said that Parker becomes eligible for possible release from custody sometime in October under the new sentence.

Parker's family members all declined to comment after Monday's court hearing.

In a letter to the court, Paul R. Wiech, program coordinator of Attica prison's A Look for Alternatives Youth Assistance Program, stressed that Parker has been "an active participant" since April 2007, displaying "a very sincere and genuine interest in helping young people."

In a 121-page ruling, Bianchini set aside the murder conviction and severely rebuked trial prosecutor Michael J. Cooper for withholding critical information from the defense about the chief prosecution witness in the case.

Two months ago, Franczyk concurred with the opinion that the trial prosecutor legally erred in failing to provide LoTempio a critical note indicating Parker's chief accuser, William "Boo" Byrd, a cousin of Brown, "may have set up this killing."